All The Bright Places by Jennifer Niven

Violet Markey is counting down the days untill graduation, so she can escape Indiana and the grief of her Sister’s recent death. Theodore Finch spends his days thinking about ways to kill himself, but each time, something stops him. When Finch and Violet connect on the ledge of the schools bell tower, its unclear who saves who. When they pari up on a school project they discover that its only with each other that they can truly be themselves. As Violet’s world grows, Finch’s starts to shrink. Can Violet save the boy she has come to love?

I Love Love Loved this book.

I will admit that is was a very slow book, but once I got into it I couldn’t put it down. I really loved the characters in this book, I felt a genuine connection to both Finch and Violet. Seeing these two characters develop throughout the book made for a really emotional reading experience.

I definitely felt some similarities between this book and The Fault In Our Stars, The connection between the main characters of Violet and Finch reminded me of Hazel and Augustus.

While I didn’t mind the writing style of this book, I did have issues with its pacing. It was very slow. There were times when I was waiting for it to speed up and it just didn’t. The pacing could have turned me off and I would completely understand if it did bore readers. For me though, the connection I felt with these characters and the story being told kept me motivated even when I was frustrated with the pace.

I you can connect with these characters early on, then I think you can over look the slowness of this book. I know I did and I am so grateful that I was able to do that and end up loving this book.

All The Bright Places by Jennifer Niven is a beautiful story that I would recommend to everyone.

 

Carry On by Rainbow Rowell 

Simon Snow is the Chosen One, but half of the time he can’t even make his wand work, and the other half, he sets something on fire. It’s Simon’s last year at Watford School of Magicks and it’s not going well. His roommate hasn’t shown up, his mentor is avoiding him, his girlfriend broke up with him and there’s a magic-eating monster running around wearing Simon’s face. Simon Snow is the worst Chosen One who’s ever been chosen.

Readers were introduced to Simon Snow in Fangirl. Fangirl’s protagonist Cath is obsessed with Simon Snow, she spends her time writing Simon Snow fan fiction; Carry On is the end result.

Carry On is very similar to another wizarding series about a Chosen boy, with some original twists on the characters.

Honestly I didn’t love this book. I liked it, I just didn’t love it. I was excited to read Carry On after reading Fangirl, so I was disappointed by my lack of interest. I loved reading about Simon in the scattered chapters throughout Fangirl, but I didn’t really need a whole book about him. I would’ve prefered a Fangirl sequel.

The writing was good and the characters were diverse and entertaining, yet I just couldn’t get into it. The similarities between this book and another wizarding book were just too similar and that made me lose interest. I also found the fact that this book was set during Simon’s eight year at school ment I could see what Rainbow Rowell was trying to create with these character relationships but I just couldn’t feel it.

I completely understand why this book is so popular, it just wasnt for me. If you have read Fangirl then I would recommend you read this book, I would just advise you to manage your expectations.

 

Book Lovers Tag…

This tag is pretty self-explanatory. So im just going to go ahead and answer the questions.

Do you have a specific place for reading? 

Umm not really. Usually my bedroom but if it’s not cold or wet I like to sit in the backyard and read.

Bookmarks or a Random Piece of Paper?

Bookmarks are always my first choice but I will use a random scrap of paper if I need to. Just no dog ears.

Can you just stop anywhere or do you need to finish a chapter?

I can stop anywhere if I have to but if its my choice I like to finish the chapter.

Do you eat or drink while reading?

I don’t like to eat whilst reading but I usually have a drink near me at all times. Mostly water but sometimes hot chocolate, milkshake or soft drink. I don’t drink tea or coffee.

Music or TV while reading?

I can listen to music as long as it hasn’t got lyrics. Lyrics just confuse me while im reading. I usually have to television on but without sound.

One book at a time or several?

I’m a several books at a time reader. Usually one becomes the main book but I like to keep my options open. So many books so little time.

Do you prefer to read at home or elsewhere?

Home all the way. I will read while im out, I always have a book on me but I prefer reading at home.

Read out loud or silently?

Silently. I only read out loud if im trying to understand something or I really want to remember a certain part.

Do you read ahead or skip the pages?

I have been known to skip pages but as a rule I try not to.

Breaking the spine or keeping it like new?

Hmmm… Breaking the spine. I love the feeling of a brand new book but I prefer breaking the spine so I feel like I have really read and enjoyed a book. I know im weird.

Do you write in your books?

NO NO NO NO NO… That’s why post it notes were invented.

 

Okay well that’s it from me. Let me know your answers in the comment section.

Happy Reading…

❤ Gem

FanGirl by Rainbow Rowell

When Cath’s twin sister tells her she doesn’t want to be roommates at college, Cath is on her own, completely out of her comfort zone. Cath’s life revolves around Simon Snow fan fiction. She eats, sleeps and breathes Simon Snow. Now out of her element at college, her Simon Snow fan fiction is the only comfort in her life. With her life changing so rapidly; can Cath make it without her sister Wren by her side? Is she ready to start living her own life? Writing her own stories? Can she really leave Simon Snow behind?

I Love Love Loved this book.

I was utterly hooked from the first page, The story was beautiful and felt really real to me. I loved Cath and found it really easy to connect with and relate to her.

Rainbow Rowell did an amazing job in crafting these truly three-dimensional characters. They were strong and completely different from each other which made for a fantastic reading experience.

I adored getting to journey with Cath as she slowly opened herself up to new people and new experiences. Cath’s emotions radiated off the pages and completely captivated me as a reader, I honestly felt I was experiencing her journey with her.

Rainbow Rowell’s writing style definatly agreed with me. It was endearing, easy to follow and had this cinematic quality to it that I really loved. I also loved the addition of the fanfixx and Simon Snow snippets that were presented at the start of each chapter, these perfectly placed insights/writings really added an extra dimension to this book.

I honestly can’t think of a bad thing to say about this book. The writing was beautiful, the characters were perfectly written and the story was super sweet and entertaining. I will be re reading this book many many times in the future.

If you havent yet read it, do it now because Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell should not be missed.

 

Stargazing For Beginners by JennyMcLachlan 

When Meg’s free-spirited mum abruptly takes off, science lover Meg is left to look after her baby sister Elsa. The timing of Meg’s mum’s latest disappearance couldn’t have come at a worse time; Meg is desperate to win a chance to visit NASA. Can Meg really pull of this double life of caring for Elsa and chasing her own dreams?

This book took me a while to get into, but once I did I really enjoyed it. The character of Meg didn’t really appeal to me at the beginning of the book, but after her mum left I really started to feel for her.

Jenny McLachlan did a wonderful job with the supporting characters in this book. These characters really added an extra layer and some much-needed humor to this story.

I was concerned going into this book that it was going to be filled with teen angst, I was very happily proven wrong on this point.

The relationships that develop and grow throughout this book make for a genuinely lovely reading experience.

As an older sister I loved seeing the bond between Meg and Elsa develop throughout this book.

Jenny McLauchlan has a beautiful writing style, this is the first time I have read one of her books and I really loved the way her writing felt. It was clean, humorous and a times really cinematic. I found myself re reading chapters of this book so I could see the scene play out in front of me over and over again.

I will definatly read Jenny McLachlan’s writing again, it was beautiful. This book left me with the warm and fuzzy’s and I am so grateful that I gave it a chance.

Stargazing For Beginners by Jenny McLachlan is not to be missed.

 

Characterise Me…

This post is about the book characters that I identify with most. As I was writing this post I realised that im picking characters that are what I think or hope I am like. Since im the one writing this post im not going to pick out characters that highlight my flaws. While looking at the characters I have selected I realised that I don’t completely agree with or relate to everything about each of these characters, just something or somethings about them I feel I can identify with.

Belle from The Beauty and the Beast: Well Belle is my princess. She is the first and only princess that I related to. Not only did she have brown hair and brown eyes like me but she loved reading. I also loved that she self sacrificed to protect her loved ones. I don’t think I would be as brave as she was but I hope I would try.

Hermione Granger from Harry Potter: I really relate to Hermione’s thirst for knowledge and her love of books. I also love her loyalty to her friends.

Luna Lovegood from Harry Potter: I really identify with Luna’s belief that anything is possible. I also really related to her ‘weird outsider’ status. I just wish I had the self-confidence that she has. I definitely care less about what people think about me now as an adult then I did at her age.

Sara Crew from The Little Princess: I love Sara’s optimism. I like to think im a half glass full type of person. I do struggle with it sometimes but I would like to think I could be as optimistic as Sara if the situation called for it.

Scarlett from Caraval: I completely related to Scarlett’s protectiveness of her sister Tella. Having three younger sisters myself, I really understood her and saw myself in her.

Tella from Caraval: Yes I related to both of the sisters in Caraval. I have an older sister who looks out for me so I do tend to act first think later on some occasions. I also related to Tella’s love for Scarlett and her wanting to do something for her.

Claire Shorten from Paris Lights: I really related to Claire’s determination not to let her ex ruin Paris for her. I loved that she stayed in Paris to create her own memories and didn’t hesitate to do what was needed to regain her strength. As I was reading this book I had flash backs to times when I had to do the same thing on a trip, to a lesser extent yes, but I really understood her in that moment.

Well that’s it from me. I think I could probably find things in most characters that I can relate to but these are the amazing characters that spoke to me and that I saw myself in at the times in my life when I discovered them.

Let me know in the comments which characters you feel you relate to.

Happy Reading…

❤ gEM

 

Knock Knock Dinosaur by Caryl Hart and Nick East

Getting a visit from a real life dinosaur sounds amazing right? When your dinosaur’s friends turn up, its time to panic. With a house full of dinosaur’s there is mess galore. What are you going to tell your mum when she gets home?

This book was absolutely perfect…

An amazing dinosaur book that is not only fun to read, but fun to look at. Caryl Hart has done a wonderful job with this book. It’s got counting, rhyming and a fantastic story.

Caryl Hart’s terrific story is perfectly complimented by Mick East’s amazing illustrations.

As an adult I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book, so I can only imagine the joy it will bring to children.

I love children’s book that are both fun and educational and Caryl Hart has created an amazing book that perfectly combines both of these elements.

With the bright and bold illustrations drawing you in and the dinosaur’s arriving in counting order, this book is the perfect book to read aloud with your kids.

Caryl Hart’s rhyming writing makes for a very enjoyable story.

I have already recommended this beautiful book to all the parents I know, so now its your turn.

Go out and get your kids a copy of Knock Knock Dinosaur by Caryl Hart, they will thank you for it later.

Doing It by Hannah Witton

This honest, hilarious and awkward book is full of confessions, revelations and anecdotes about sex, consent, virginity and a whole array of topics that we as a society don’t like to talk about. Let’s face it, sex is everywhere so why do we feel the need to hide it, lets talk honestly and frankly about this at times taboo subject. What are we waiting for? Let’s talk about sex.

I loved this book….

This amazing book covers a wide range or topics; sex, masturbation, body image, LGBTQ+, consent and healthy relationships just to name a few. A great hing about this book is you don’t have to read it start to finish, you can pick a topic at will and dive in. I read it start to finish and now im re reading it by just picking a subject that interests me in the moment.

Hannah’s writing is easy to read and very humorous. She doesn’t make light of the serious topics, yet she doesn’t shy away from taking the piss out of herself either.

The subject in this book are covered perfectly; non judgemental, full of good, sensible information as well as contact information for any professional services you may want to contact for further information.

I didn’t really expect to learn a whole lot going into this book, so I was happily surprised by how much I did actually take away from this book.

One of the things I loved most about Hannah’s approach to this book was how positive she was. The stories and anecdotes were positive and didn’t take the heavy-handed approach that we see in most sex education materials.

I have already recommended this book to everyone I know and I am positive I will be picking this book up many times in the future.

Doing It: Let’s Talk About Sex by Hannah Witton is a must read for everyone.

Sydney Writers Festival: Kathryn Heyman

I recently dipped my toe in the Sydney Writers Festival. I attended an author’s talk and have decided to give you guys an insight into the event.

Held in the double room of the Max Webber Function centre on Monday the 22nd Of May 2017, between 7:30 – 8:30pm. Storm and Grace by Kathryn Heyman was proudly presented by the Sydney Writers Festival and Blacktown Libraries. 2017 marks the Blacktown Libraries 50th birthday, in honor of this the library was giving out free promotional materials such as library bags, bookmarks and flyers. Also on hand for the nights event was Richard from the Book Haven bookstore located in Baulkham Hills, who was selling copies of Kathryn Heyman’s books; Storm and Grace, and Floodlines.

The night was kicked off by Margaret from Blacktown Library. After some housekeeping announcements it was time to dive in with Kathryn Heyman.

Kathryn started her talk with a reading from Storm and Grace, Her 6th novel. As an author of 6 novels, 12 plays, many short stories and many many poems. Kathryn explains how unusual it is for an author to know exactly how an idea begins. Most of the time she usually has no idea where it comes from, she usually makes up a story, some of it being true. But sometimes you can actually trace the moment of conception. For Kathryn with Storm and Grace she knows the exact date this story was born, 29/11/13.

On the 28/11/13, Simon Gittany was convicted of murdering his girlfriend Lisa Harnum, by throwing her off the balcony of his apartment. Kathryn had followed this case, in fact she was obsessed with it. In particular Kathryn was obsessed with Simon’s new girlfriend who was accompanying him to court everyday; Rachael Louise. Kathryn couldn’t understand why Rachael was there, even if she believed he was innocent of the murder, she had still seen photo’s and video’s of him physically assaulting Lisa Harnam. After seeing this footage, why was Rachael still there? What can’t she see? What about Simon dazzled her? These were just a few of the questions Kathryn was asking herself. ‘To be dazzled’ imply’s something gorgeous, ‘razzle dazzle’, when in reality ‘to be dazzled’ is to be blinded. Kathryn believed Rachael had been ‘dazzled’ and she couldn’t figure out why.

The day after the Gittany conviction, Kathryn went diving with her then 14-year-old daughter. It wasnt a good dive, the water was murky and Kathryn couldn’t see anything, except her daughter disappearing beneath her. Her daughter’s decent caused Kathryn to completely panic. While sitting on the boat ramp waiting for her daughter and the dive master to finish the dive, Kathryn started to think about her daughter and the dive, and the Simon Gittany case, and these two unrelated events had Kathryn worrying about young women.

During this time Kathryn was also very aware of books such as 50 Shades of Grey and Gone Girl, books that she saw a being vaguely misogynistic. Books that seemed to suggest that violence was sexy, Kathryn found this very troubling. It was a perfect storm of troubling circumstances.

The day of this dive, Kathryn got the paper to see what was happening with the Gittany case and on the front page of the Herald was a story about a free diver Nicolas Mevoli who had died whilst diving. This story launch Kathryn into a new obsession; an obsession with free diving. Kathryn’s new obsession and the perfect storm of the dive and the Gittany case came together. This world of sexy danger that is free diving, became a perfect metaphor for a dazzling, dangerous relationship.

Kathryn then went on to give us a bit of background on herself.

Growing up Kathryn never thought she would become a writer, in fact she had no idea what someone would do in order to become a writer. In the environment that she grew up in women read Mills & Boone and men read playboy or soft porn novels, And Kathryn read everything and anything she could get her hands on. The stories werent what Kathryn was interested in, they didn’t compel her to keep reading, it was the power of language. It was about understanding language and being able to articulate it. From a young age Kathryn knew that she could use language against others and that it could be used against her. She knew that language was powerful. Reading and being able to use language saved Kathryn’s life, just like it has saved many others, like it could save everyone.

Growing up in a single parent, Mills & Boone reading home, Romantic love trumped everything. Coming first in your year, ‘yeah that’s okay, but you don’t have a boyfriend’. That notion of being measured by your relationships, your boyfriend, bothered Kathryn. Kathryn’s upbringing played into her desire and her urgency to write Storm and Grace. Kathryn had actually sold her publishers on a different book, but became so obsessed with this book, with this desire to shout at young women ‘What the hell are you doing? ‘You are more’. She wanted to say to all women and men ‘ You are more, You deserve better, You are enough’. This idea that we have to have romantic love, or playing into romantic love being the most important thing in life is causing us real damage.

Kathryn closed off the evening be answering some questions and giving some insights into how she writes. I have included some of the Q&A here:

On writing Storm and Grace: For Storm and Grace, Kathryn knew the ending, she knew where the story was going. She wrote on pieces of paper things like; ten critical scenes, the first dive, the final dive, the early stages of the relationship. She then wrote other random thoughts or ideas, such as ‘the shade of water’. Once she had all of these pieces she started to put them into a very approximate shape. Knowing that the shape is going to change.

How do you decide what stories become novels and not poems, plays or short stories? Kathryn’s honest answer to this question was, it depends on who commissioned her. Kathryn went to drama school and became an actor, so the step into writing plays wasnt a huge one. As for how she chooses which stories to develop, Kathryn stated that it is instinctual.

Do you have any favourite Authors or books? Jill Dawson, she is an extraordinary writer. Tove Jansson a Finnish Author, she wrote beautiful books for adults.

The best advice you have received from a mentor or writer?  Jane Rogers ‘enjoy where you are’. Lynn Alexander ‘take all of the praise into you’.

Is Storm in ‘Storm and Grace’ aware of what he is doing? Storm is a narcissist. He is led by his narcissism. He knows what he is doing, he is doing what works. He knows the vulnerabilities of theses women.

Kathryn finished the Q&A by quoting a Saturday paper review of Storm and Grace which I feel captured the book Beautifully. ‘Storm and Grace takes classic tragedy and classic romance and melds them together perfectly’.

Once the Q&A wrapped up we were able to say hello to Kathryn and get our books signed.

I hade a fantastic time at my first Sydney Writers Festival event. I will definatly be attending more Sydney Writers Festival events next year.

I loved Storm and Grace and I adored Kathryn Heyman. I highly recommend you check out, first and foremost, Storm and Grace, and than any of her other works you can get your hands on.

❤ Gem

 

 

 

Storm and Grace by Kathryn Heyman

When Grace Cain meets world-famous free diver Storm Hisray, she is instantly smitten. Abandoning her life in the city, Grace follows Storm to his idyllic Pacific Island, where Storm teaches Grace the wonders of free diving aswell as the wonders of her own pleasure. As Grace’s confidence grows, so does Storm’s need to control her. The more Storm pushes her the more Grace realises she is in deeper than she has ever imagined possible.

Storm and Grace took my breath away.

Kathryn Heyman’s writing is mesmerizing. The rich and poetic sentences completely and hauntingly capture the powerful story being told. The similarities that Kathryn painted between free diving and a toxic relationship are expertly displayed by both the characters and narrative.

The deeper the reader dives into this book the more desperate and urgent the story becomes. This urgency keeps you turning the page, desperately hoping you are being misled.

Given the climate we live in, with one woman a week being murdered by a current or former partner, this book can be hard to read at times. This uncomfortable topic is something that cannot be ignored and Kathryn has done a fantastic job in crafting this story to represent it.

My only issue with this book was that ‘Storm’ wasnt appealing to me. I wasnt mesmerized by his comments or power, I was actually turned off by them. I think this may have actually been an asset to me reading this book, even though I was disinterested in ‘Storm’, it made me feel this protectiveness towards ‘Grace’ that I hadn’t expected to feel whilst reading this book. I wanted to reach into the pages and kidnap ‘Grace’, to protect her.

I havent stopped thinking about or talking about this book since I finished it, which is unusual for me.

Kathryn Heyman has written a captivating, haunting and completely relevent book that should be read by all.

If you havent yet got yourself a copy of this book, do it now.

Storm and Grace by Kathryn Heyman will stay with you long after the final dive.